Climate change news coverage shifts

A week has passed since the global climate strike that sent thousands of students and activists to the streets of Boston, along with millions of others around the world. This is usually when the interest fades away — but perhaps this time is different.  

News coverage on local global warming impacts may be the biggest asset toward combating misinformation about climate change, and a few things have happened recently to bring gravitas to that argument.

A masterfully written piece by Nestor Ramos in the Boston Globe paints a portrait of how climate change doesn’t just erode the soil beneath a snack shack on Nauset Beach — it washes away cultural staples and livelihoods that make Cape Cod what people have come to love.

There’s an adage for writersshow, don’t tell. It’s also a fixture of successful argumentation. You can tell about the three feet of beach being lost a year on the Outer Cape, but isn’t it also better to tell the story of a prized town business claimed by the sea? The story is peppered with detail on climate change’s impact on biodiversity, homeowners, and the shellfish industry. There is also a nod to the many experts who have tried to hold the coastal effects of climate change at bay.

More often than not, you won’t even see climate coverage. According to news analysis organization Media Matters, major American broadcast networks aired a combined total of just 142 minutes of climate coverage in 2018. That’s the length of the “Shawshank Redemption,” but for a whole year. It may be because the subject is seemingly not as sexy as another Trump gaff, or the latest he said, she said on Beacon Hill. But if the story is told right, there’s an opened door of possibilities of where readers can take the issue.

Publishers and editors are realizing that. Ahead of the UN Climate Action Summit Monday, over 300 news organizations with over a billion combined readers banded together to push out hundreds of stories about climate change.

The Daily Hampshire Gazette, WBUR, the Boston Institute of Nonprofit Journalism, The Christian Science Monitor, Harvard Business Review, and DigBoston rounded out the Massachusetts delegation on that front, telling stories about how Chelsea became a community ripe for environmental justice, how farmers are faring in the Pioneer Valley, and if New England’s reliance on nuclear power should be questioned.

It’s the first time in the area there has been this sort of continued, combined effort. And even if many of the flashiest headlines in national news are about the empowered words of Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, readers begin to focus their attention when the issue washes up to their doorway.

Joe the Plumber may not care about what’s going on in international climate politics, but he knows his neighbor’s flood insurance rate went up.

SARAH BETANCOURT


BEACON HILL

Legislative backers of the state’s new education bill say the $1.5 billion plan won’t require new taxes, but that assumes no bumps in the economy over the next seven years. Meanwhile, they say Gov. Charlie Baker is overstating the impact a big increase in state aid would have on local spending requirements. (CommonWealth)

The usually temperate governor threw caution to the vape-fumed wind with his move to shut down all vaping product sales statewide. (Boston Globe) The move will be a bonanza for vape stores just over the border in New Hampshire, says Kevin Cullen. (Boston Globe) The four-month ban, plus talk of comprehensive vaping legislation on Beacon Hill, means things are not going well for local fixers hired by e-cigarette giant Juul, a team that includes former attorney general Martha Coakley and former state rep Marty Walz. (Boston Globe

The state’s top campaign finance regulator plans to step down this fiscal year, which prompted the House to change the way his replacement will be selected. Baker raises concerns about the new approach, which eliminates the role of GOP and Dem state committee chairs. (CommonWealth)

Grant Thornton, the firm hired to investigate what went wrong at the Registry of Motor Vehicles, has collected $1.1 million so far for two months of work. (MassLive)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Median household income ticked up in Massachusetts last year, as did income inequality. The poverty rate inched downward. (WBUR)

Just over a year after devastating fires caused by over-pressurized gas infrastructure in the city, Lawrence is dealing with a big gas leak that forced 110 people out of buildings. Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera said officials don’t know where the leak began. (Eagle-Tribune)

Mayor Jasiel Correia II denies that he plans to resign following speculation that he could step down due to his ongoing legal troubles. (Herald News) 

A  Cambridge City Council meeting to decide whether developer Leggat McCall Properties was going to acquire enough parking spaces that would allow it to convert a state-owed court house into a commercial office tower with only 24 affordable housing units went haywire when Councilor Sumbul Siddiqui voted yes without asking for the very thing she based her last campaign on — more affordable housing. (DigBoston) 

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

The explosive report from a government whistle-blower, identified by the New York Times as a CIA officer who worked in the White House, alleges that senior White House officials tried to “lock down” records of President Trump’s phone conversation with the president of Ukraine in an effort to cover-up evidence that Trump encouraged a foreign leader to investigate presidential rival Joe Biden. (New York Times) The whistle-blower has single-handedly set in motion a more serious congressional inquiry than resulted from two years of investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller. (Washington PostJohn Kerry says Trump is proving to be “his own John Dean.” (Boston Globe)

A lengthy New York Times editorial makes the case for an impeachment inquiry. Scot Lehigh says Congress should censure, rather than impeach, Trump. (Boston Globe) Gov. Charlie Baker supports the impeachment inquiry, while Massachusetts Republican Party Chairman Jim Lyons calls it a “witch hunt.” (Salem News)

Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson spoke about the border at an event in DC featuring sheriffs, like-minded members of Congress, and the families of people killed by unauthorized immigrants. (Standard-Times) 

ELECTIONS

Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer wins the endorsement of a host of political leaders, while her challenger, City Councilor Linda Mazzeo, is backed by the two candidates who were knocked out during the preliminary election. Mazzeo edged Tyer by 289 votes in the preliminary. (Berkshire Eagle)

The showdown between Ed Markey and Joe Kennedy is already getting testy, as the two camps trade charges over corporate PAC donations. (Boston Globe)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

A developer has filed initial plans to build 400 units of housing in the “Polish Triangle” area of Dorchester near the South Bay shopping center. (Boston Globe)

EDUCATION

Alain Jehlen and Lisa Guisbond of Citizens for Public Schools explore the politics of MCAS 2.0 and conclude high-stakes testing has very little to do with education. (CommonWealth)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Massachusetts hospitals reported an overall profit margin of 4.5 percent last year. (MassLive)

A new South Shore Health medical center in Quincy will open its doors next week amid a regional healthcare expansion. (Patriot Ledger)

ARTS/CULTURE

The high holy day observances of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, which begin Sunday night, will be the first since the massacre at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, and anti-Semitic incidents have been at historic highs, which is changing how Jews worship. (WGBH)

Avenue Victor Hugo Books on Boston’s Newbury Street was shuttered in 2004, but in 2016 proprietor Vincent McCaffrey re-opened a scaled-down version of the shop in a barn in Lee, New Hampshire. (WGBH)

TRANSPORTATION 

In a talk with students at Clark University in Worcester, former governor Michael Dukakis says the MBTA isn’t suffering from underinvestment. “It’s terribly managed,” he said, blaming Gov. Charlie Baker. (Telegram & Gazette)

#FreeTheRamp all day long, say Ari Ofsevit and Jim Aloisi of TransitMatters. (CommonWealth)

FlixBus, a European company, has launched a new option for bus travel between the Boston area and New York City with stops in the South End and Tufts University. (WBUR)

The state is rerouting traffic on I-495 over the Merrimack River to make way for a $102 million bridge replacement. (Eagle-Tribune)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

State Attorney General Maura Healey has filed a federal court appeal that seeks to vacate the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s order to transfer Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station’s license from Entergy Corp. to Holtec International, and its $1.1 billion trust fund along with it. (Cape Cod Times) 

CASINOS

MGM Springfield said Encore Boston Harbor lured away about 200 of its employees. (MassLive)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

Suffolk DA Rachael Rollins is unveiling a plan to try to solve some of the more than 1,300 unsolved homicides in the county. (Boston Herald)

Twenty Medford police officers were suspended without pay as part of a probe of improper actions related to working paid “details” at construction sites. (Boston Globe)

The Boston Herald goes on a ride-along with ICE agents as they bust undocumented immigrants charged with drug crimes. 

From the witness stand in a double-murder trial, Ed O’Connor described how his daughter suffered health problems, was prescribed painkillers, and struggled with substance abuse before she was killed in a Peabody trap house at the age of 40. (Salem News)